Cooperstown Central School, Regents Diploma;SUNY Oneonta, BA in History with a minor in Economics, BS and MS in Social Science Education; NYS Real Estate Brokers License with over 225 hours of Continuing Education credits; NYS Professional Coaching License with over 120 hours of Continuing Education credits
Owner/Operator of 300-acre organic farm (1983-present), NYS Real Estate Broker (1995-present), CCS Girls Varsity Softball Coach (2001-present).
Town of MIddlefield: Zoning Board of Appeals (2 years), Town Board (2 years), Town Supervisor (24 years). Otsego County Board of Representatives (2016 – present)
Member of the Board of Directors of The Farmers’ Museum and of the Otsego Land Trust; Member of Cooperstown Rotary Club, Rotary International Youth Exchange (host family and youth counselor).
American Legion Baseball, Cooperstown Sports Booster Club, Youth soccer and baseball, Fetterman Award Winner, Oneonta Daily Star and Utica Observer-Dispatch Coach of the Year Awards.
Married 34 years to my wife Kim, a teacher in Richfield Springs Central School. Three adult children: Rachel, Eric and Ethan, and one granddaughter.
PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT:
As Abraham Lincoln said “The legitimate object of government is to do for people what needs to be done, things that they cannot do for themselves: the making and maintaining roads and bridges, providing for the helpless, providing schools, and the forming and maintaining of the military, police, and civil departments.” I believe in doing so we provide everyone the opportunity for personal liberty and economic success.
MAJOR ISSUES FACING OTSEGO COUNTY:
Investing in our infrastructure including roads, bridges, communications and high speed internet. In the past two years we have made significant progress and the foundation has been put in place to continue at an even more rapid pace. We need to complete the process of determining the duties and responsibilities of a county manager and fill the position. Although many NY counties have a manager/executive, research shows their duties and authority vary greatly. We need to find the right fit for Otsego County. Reroute XNG trucks so they travel Interstate Highways to the fullest extent possible. Continue to look for ways to save money through shared services, a process that has saved the county tens of thousands of dollars in the past year. Addressing the opioid epidemic.
My well documented record of public service has been one of honesty, fairness, transparency, open communication, low taxes, investment in people and infrastructure, as well as environmental stewardship. I keep an open mind on issues and listen to all sides without confrontation, therefore I have excelled at building bipartisan consensus to better serve residents. As a result, I have been endorsed by leading members of the Republican, Democrat and Independence parties.
As with any job, there is a steep learning curve for a someone new. I was better prepared than most because of my 24 years as Middlefield Town Supervisor. In my short tenure on the board I have spent time listening to, and learning from, our county employees and department heads as well as town and county board representatives, gaining their trust, confidence and support. I have been tagged as the quiet leader of bipartisan reform by the Freeman’s Journal newspaper. We have a great deal of talent in our county and we have made significant progress in just 21 months. More importantly, the foundation has been put in place for further progress at an accelerated rate. I ask for your continued support to implement these programs for your benefit.
COOPERSTOWN – Sandra Jane Bliss, 70, a teacher and the first director of the Mohawk Regional Teacher’s Center, died peacefully Monday evening, Aug. 27, 2018, surrounded by her loving family at her home on County Highway 33 following a courageous battle with cancer.
Sandy was born in Cooperstown on Nov. 12, 1947, the daughter of Claud and Anna Bliss. She graduated from Cooperstown Central School in 1965 and SUNY Oneonta in 1969, received her Masters in Education from SUNY Cortland in 1974, and began her 40 year teaching career at Frankfort-Schuyler Central School in 1969.
COOPERSTOWN – A breakthrough has been agreed to in the case of county Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr.’s son Ros, a correctional officer at the county jail who has been under suspension since January 2017.
The sheriff has agreed to recuse himself under Section 72 of state Civil Service law, which will allow county board Chairman David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, to order a medical examination of the son, Bliss confirmed a few minutes ago.
The examination could determine whether the younger Devlin can return to work, or could open the way for his eventual dismissal.
She was nominated and elected temporary chair of the reorganizational meeting, presiding over the transition of the chairmanship from Kathy Clark, R-Otego, to David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield.
And she emerged from the morning’s decision-making as chair of the Administration Committee – Ways & Means, through which all resolutions must flow before getting to the floor of the monthly county board meeting.
COOPERSTOWN – The Otsego County Board of Representatives this morning elected David Bliss, the former Middlefield town supervisor just elected to his second term, to be its chairman this year.
The vote was 10 “ayes,” two absentions, one absence, and a single “nay” from Kathy Clark, R-Otego, the chair Bliss replaced.
Unanimously, the reps then appointed Democrat Gary Koutnik, the veteran representative from the City of Oneonta, as the vice chair.
The absent county rep was Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, who departs as board vice chair. It was said he had to take his wife to the hospital.
The pairing of a Republican chair with Democratic vice chair is unusual but not unprecedented: Republican Sam Dubben and the late Rich Murphy, a Democrat, shared the leadership in 2010; and Republican Don Linberg was chair and Ron Feldstein vice chair in 2007.
COOPERSTOWN – County Rep. Meg Kennedy is making history.
It surfaced at today’s county Board of Representative meeting that the second-term legislator has been invited and agreed to join the board of directors of NYSAC, the influential New York State Association of Counties.
What’s more, she is the first representative from Otsego County ever to be so honored.
A letter to the editor the other week drew on the Biblical injunction, “The son shall not suffer for the sins of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquities of the son.” And surely that’s as it should be.
That said, it’s legitimate for open-minded citizens to question how county Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. has handled the situation involving his son, Ros, a correctional officer in the jail his father administers since it surfaced in January 2017. At the least, the situation is an awkward one; at worst, a dangerous one.
In effect, according
to a court decision on a
related matter made public on March 31, 2017, Ros Devlin told a fellow C-O he was thinking of committing suicide in front of his disciplining supervisor at the county jail, after first creating a diversion by shooting up an Oneonta or Milford school. (To read the decision for yourself, type “devlin judge’s order” in the search line at www.AllOTSEGO.com)
From the beginning, the sheriff has stood steadfastly by his son, who was suspended for more than a year – albeit, with pay; since March, without pay – by the Otsego County Board of Representatives.
The sheriff claimed a “witchhunt” was in progress; that his downfall was intended, not his son’s.
If Ezekiel was right
about sons and fathers, his declaration should be equally valid for wives
That said, it’s legitimate for open-minded citizens to question the role of Kathy Clark, R-Otego, former county board chair – and a tough-minded and determined one – in engineering her husband, Bob Fernandez’s, challenge to Devlin after Fernandez’s retirement from the state police.
In New York State, the sheriff’s position – as with county clerk – is a constitutional office, filled by election, not appointment by a county board. There’s good reason for ensuring a sheriff’s independence: to keep law enforcement and politics separate.
Clark championing of her husband sought to breach that sensible divide.
Further problematic was the engineering of Fernandez’s Democratic endorsement. It grew out of a longtime personal friendship between Kathy Clark and Oneonta’s former Democratic mayor, Kim Muller, who for the time being is county Democratic chair. (She expects to step down when the county committee meets in early October.)
There’s no secret. Both acknowledge close ties between their families going back decades, when their children played in the same soccer league. Still, as you can imagine, the Fernandez endorsement has caused a rift among the Democratic rank and file.
For his part, Devlin has argued he didn’t trust the county board, under Kathy Clark’s chairmanship, to fairly investigate his son.
To his credit, when David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Middlefield, succeeded Clark this past Jan. 3, Devlin then reached out to Bliss, and in March agreed to recuse himself, allowing the board chair to order a medical examination of the son to determine if he is fit to continue as a jail guard.
The good news is: A process is in place. In interview this week, Bliss said the medical examination by a downstate physician who specializes in matters involving law-enforcement personnel is expected by mid-month.
Once the report is submitted, Bliss, in consultation with the county’s personnel lawyers and County Attorney Ellen Coccoma will decide on an appropriate course of action. He said he will keep county reps advised of developments and welcome inputs.
If the decision is made to discipline Ros Devlin, “the officer still has rights,” the board chair said. The younger Devlin could challenge any decision in court. Meanwhile, he will remain off the job without pay.
The bad news, from the perspective if the electorate, it’s unlikely the situation will be resolved before the Nov. 6 general election, Bliss said.
All this matters right now because the first match-up between Devlin and Fernandez comes Thursday, Sept. 13, in a local Republican primary. (That’s Thursday, not Tuesday, which is 9/11 and Rosh Hashanah.) The polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. across Otsego County for registered Republicans.
The vote will not necessarily settle anything. If Devlin, endorsed by the Republican county committee last March, wins, Fernandez has the Democratic county committee endorsement; he will appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot anyhow.
If Fernandez were to win the Republican primary, Devlin would still appear on three lines – Conservative, Independent and Reform – on the November ballot.
The world is an imperfect place, as we know from our lives and experiences. We often have to choose between imperfect options, and this is one of those cases.
Yet, on the one hand, there is due process, independent of Sheriff Devlin’s control, that we can hope will resolve thinking people’s concerns – either clearing Ros Devlin, or removing him from his position permanently.
On the other hand, there is no due process, only cronyism and the potential that an alliance between husband and wife will inject politics into law enforcement.
For now, the only option is to vote for due process. For the time being, that option is Richard J. Devlin Jr.
BURLINGTON – The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation cut the ribbon this morning on the revamped Basswood Pond State Forest recreational area. The $100,000 project added several features to the site, while making the pond fully accessible to handicapped visitors.
“With the completion of these new accessible features, visitors with mobility impairments can enjoy the natural beauty and recreational opportunities at Basswood Pond,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.
“These improvements, through Governor Cuomo’s Adventure NY initiative, are just a sample of the recreational upgrades that New York has underway to better serve everyone who wants to enjoy our state’s great outdoors,” he said.
First, voters should want a county sheriff who’s steady under fire.
Over the past 15 months, county Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. has proved he is.
With his son Ros, a guard at the county jail, accused in a workplace disturbance and ordered off county property by the county Board of Representatives, Devlin hung tough, arguing he was the target of a
“political witch hunt.”
That didn’t seem completely out of the question when it surfaced that allies of county Board chair Kathy Clark’s husband were sounding out Democrats to see if they would endorse a sheriff’s run by her husband, retiring state trooper Bob Fernandez – first reported in these newspapers in March 2017.
Second, voters should want the county’s top law-enforcement
officer to have a strategic mind.
Now, Sheriff Devlin is showing he does.
With Fernandez challenging him in the Nov. 6 election, Devlin approached the more even-handed county board chairman, David Bliss, who succeeded Kathy Clark, and agreed to resign his son’s fate to an even-handed application of Civil Service law. Going into the fall election with the issue unresolved would have been folly.
This is no endorsement of the incumbent. Bob Fernandez has some baggage, but he does bring an impressive resume and an engaging personality to the race.
Still, Sheriff Devlin has shown resilience under fire and a strategic mind in opening the way to a fair resolution to what must be a personally anguishing situation, qualities anyone would certainly want in the county’s leading law-enforcement officer.